Gallup: 18% of Uninsured Americans Ignoring Health Exchange Website

By Susan Jones | November 8, 2013 | 6:17am EST

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( - Only 18 percent of uninsured Americans  have personally gone to -- or tried to go to -- or the state exchanges to enroll in Obamacare since Oct. 1.

A new Gallup poll, conducted Oct. 23-Nov. 6, also says that 22 percent of uninsured Americans say they plan to get insurance through the exchanges.

Gallup concludes that many uninsured Americans may be waiting to go online until the highly publicized problems are fixed, or they may be putting off decisions about getting insurance until later.

Gallup found that only 3 in 10 uninsured Americans are "somewhat or very familiar" with the exchanges, and that lack of familiarity was similar among those who claim they will most likely buy insurance through the exchanges.

Overall, about 17% of U.S. adults reported having no health insurance, similar to the percentages found in the first three quarters of this year.

The implications, according to Gallup: "The health exchange websites are not only fraught with the technical problems that have led to so much news coverage in recent weeks, but have also generated relatively little interest or use among uninsured Americans -- the primary target group for the exchanges. The majority of uninsured Americans are unfamiliar with the exchanges and relatively few have tried to access them to date, even among those who say that eventually, they will most likely get their insurance through an exchange website."

Gallup based its findings on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 23-Nov. 6, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 854 uninsured adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error is plus or minus 5 points.

At the White House press briefing Thursday, spokesman Jay Carney said the first Obamacare enrollment numbers, due out next week, will be low.

"Take it from me, they'll be low in October. We've acknowledged that," Carney said. "They were always going to be low. And that was even when we did not expect the problems with the website that occurred."

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Dave Camp, issued a subpoena for the enrollment numbers, which he wants to receive by the close of business on Friday.

Careny said he doesn't know if the White House will comply with that subpoena. "I'm not the counsel so I don't -- I haven't -- I don't have a response to the subpoena."

He said the point of issuing the subpoena seems to be "to make political hay out of what we've already acknowledged. The website's not working well. It hasn't been working well for the first month of the rollout. It's improving daily, but it is not where it needs to be. In large measure because of the problems with the website, the enrollment figures will be even lower than the low numbers that were anticipated because of the nature of these kinds of programs and the way that people tend to enroll when you have a deadline six months later.

"So we saw this in Massachusetts, as the president pointed out last week in Boston, that in the very similar Massachusetts program, in the first month of that enrollment period for that program, only 123 premium-paying customers enrolled. And of course, that represented 0.3 percent of the number who eventually enroll. So I think that's the mode to look at, and then add to that the fact that we've had the troubles we've had."

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